Job Fairs Open Doors

If you are planning on heading out to a Job Fair, most likely you are either currently looking for a new job opportunity, or considering a change in your present career path.  Job Fairs offer multiple opportunities for exploring options in promoting your personal and professional development. 

You will find that Job Fairs provide valuable networking avenues with actual employers, their hiring managers, recruiters, or even other job seekers.  Discover leads on new companies coming to your area, or even browse the incentives employers provide for relocating in your current career field.  No matter what reason you decide to check out the upcoming Job Fair, there are some things you should consider before you set out on your adventure. 

The companies, employers and recruiters that line the isles to market the benefits of working with their organization are serious.  They wouldn’t be there if they were not searching for the next potential employee to add as an asset to their staff.  By realizing that they are scanning the room for potential candidates, just as you are scanning for new job opportunities you will have already taken a step closer to opening the door to a new phase in your career development.     

The best things happen to those who are proactive in setting and reaching goals.

Take the time to consider some of the following tips as you prepare to screen employment opportunities and before you stop in at the next Job Fair.

Research – Obtain a List of potential Employers.  By knowing what companies are planning to attend the Job Fair, you will have a pretty good idea of the career fields and employment opportunities available.  Highlight some of the companies that you may be interested in.  Create a schedule for your visit, and place these companies in an order of precedence which best supports your objectives.  Then, research each company and make a few notes that you can review prior to your visit with them.  By looking these companies up online, and reading about the services, products, mission, values, corporate goals and career development opportunities they provide; you will sound well informed when you approach a prospective employer to inquire about current vacancies.  Job Fairs can be very small with only 25 employers; others can be huge and support a hundred or more.  Time will be limited with representatives, but by being prepared you can use that time wisely with key comments and questions.       

This tactic will immediately help you stand out above the other job seekers who just stop by for a brochure; not really having a particular goal, or knowing what they are actually there looking for.

Identify Your Personal Career Goals.  If you are seeking a particular position, make sure you know everything there is to know about it and be able to portray your knowledge.  You can’t impress a potential employer by hoping they will give you a shot at an opening that you know nothing about.  Once you identify a particular area of interest, you must also know the job description, the industry and how to portray to the hiring authority that you are the best pick for the job.  On the other hand, if you are not sure exactly what your career goals are, make notes and obtain employer information so that you can research opportunities in order to return to the Job Fair another day.  It isn’t wise to waste your time, the employer’s time; or hinder the goals of others who have mapped out their objectives.  

Plan to Market Yourself – Network.  Look at this opportunity as a potential “on-the-spot” interview.  Make sure you have your Résumé updated, and numerous copies available.  You may also have business cards that you can leave with other job seekers or employers after meeting with them.  Sometimes the best opportunities come along when we are not actually looking for them; and to have an unexpected opportunity pass you by because you were unprepared to provide your Résumé or other contact information will be a big mistake.  Take the time to be outgoing, open, friendly, and converse with other job seekers you meet.  The other job seekers may have came in contact with a representative looking for someone with your qualifications, and kind consideration for their own interests may be beneficial to you.  Also, it can only help to have Résumé, Professional Portfolio or business card you can leave behind with potential employers.  In addition you must always have something to write with, and a folder or notebook to take notes, and a place to keep the information you gather.                  

Dress for Success.  Appropriate attire will indicate to observers that you are serious in pursing employment opportunities.  To be successful in locating job opportunities, you have to approach the Job Fair as if you were scheduled for an interview.  Business dress is the only choice.  If you are not dressed for an unexpected Job Fair, refrain from attending until you are prepared.  The first impression you make will be the one that you leave behind, and will be hard to compensate for in the future.  The representatives really will remember you and the first impression will stand.

Adjust Your Attitude.  Just as you are seeking opportunities for growth and advancement, the staff sent to the Job Fair as representatives for the company will be seeking professional applicants to fill their vacancies.  They will be motivated in selecting the best candidates for their openings, and will expect potential candidates to be professional, motivated, enthusiastic and eager to work.  Don’t underestimate the power of these representatives to make recommendations on your behalf, either for or against possible consideration.  You have to consider that if an employer sends a company representative to a Job Fair, they explicitly trust their judgment in selecting potential candidates.  If you don’t make a good impression with the recruiter, chances are you will not be able to overcome any initial mistakes made on the day of the Job Fair.  In fact, your personal Résumé or credentials may not make it to the hiring authority if you lack enthusiasm, or are apathetic in your job search.  Try your best to be upbeat, positive and leave each employer or representative with the impression that you came to the Job Fair just for the opportunity to make contact with their company.     

Professionalism – Always.  As outlined above, your attitude and the way you approach the representatives of these companies will leave a lasting impression.  Treat each representative as if they are the hiring authority, or the business owner.  Never let your guard down in feeling too comfortable in your surroundings based on the heightened level of excitement and activity that accompanies the events that surround Job Fairs.  Making impressions and being competitive is the name of the game.  You must also assume that company representatives traverse the isles just as you do, so negative comments about a specific company or representative may fall on the wrong set of ears.  Approach the Job Fair event as if your behavior is being recorded throughout the process; and will be reviewed by the potential employers at a later time.

Seek Input – Gather Information.  Compile information from each employer you visit.  Gather the brochures, business cards, and other information that you may need in the future; especially if you have left a copy of your Résumé or Professional Portfolio in their possession.  There are a couple of reasons for having as much information as possible.  Inevitably you are going to write a Thank You Letter to express your appreciation for the opportunity to leave your Résumé behind.  You will want to have the names and point of contact to assist you in a follow-up.  By obtaining the brochure or business card, you will have not only the properly spelled names, but the address, location and contact numbers of the company representatives.  Imagine the frustration of not knowing who to contact, or with whom you spoke as you prepare to follow-up in the future; not to mention how unprofessional if may appear to others as you try to identify the respective party.   In addition, you will have a substantial record of your job search history and the companies you have made contact with.  

Workshops and Seminars.  Many Job Fairs will provide workshops on a variety of job search techniques and other career development topics such as Résumé Writing, Online Applications, Interviews, and Motivation, Professional Etiquette, and Job Search Strategies.  Make sure you review the schedule and work in a visit to any of these topics that you find interesting.  This is a great opportunity to develop insight and obtain free advice from Career Development Experts in these areas that will assist you in planning your job search strategy.  The Labor Market and the strategies used in making an impact on employers change on a regular basis.  Attending these brief workshops will help you keep abreast of the latest and greatest trends in job search techniques.  You may also receive valuable information and direct points of contact for future questions that you may have.

If you are looking for a career development professional to assist you in reaching your career goals, contact Ms. Parker, or locate a career development professional through the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW-CC).                       







Lisa Parker, CPRW is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and Employment Interview Professional.

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